Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Kite surfing for the 'older' generation

For some years now I have wanted to learn how to kite surf.
In fact, for a rather long time, come to think about it, ever since first spotting the early uptake as way back as 1998 in Tarifa, on Costa de la Luz.

Back then, there were a couple of dudes mucking around with these big flying things, carrying around more paraphernalia and lengths of strings and small surf boards and harnesses and helmets than you could shake a stick at.

Oh, how we windsurfers scoffed at them.

"Passing fad," I think we even muttered under our breath, silently in awe of the ease of set up and acrobatics being displayed on the waves. "It'll never catch on, it's far too windy here for it to be safe!" we continued, shaking our heads.

Fast forward sixteen years - yes, we have been returning here that long - and the kites now outnumber the windsurfers. By a ratio of about one hundred to one.

Don't believe me?

Okay, spot the windsurfer then:

clue: they're not in the water

So kite surfing beckoned.

For a number of reasons:

  • I am a useless windsurfer (get on the board, wobble a lot, haul the sail up, head out, come back, fall in, repeat until my knees are raw, my hands numb and my back totally buggered) and never quite mastered the beach start, let alone the water start - mind you, trying to learn the latter in a large swell with three foot waves, a howling twenty knot wind and cold Atlantic water is unrelenting at the best of times, so I'll excuse myself on that front
  • I like a challenge (this includes having a lesson in four different languages, simultaneously)
  • I could be as good, if not better, than OH at this (he too is a novice here, unlike windsurfing)
  • the instructors are great fun (read: tanned, fit, entertaining, and happy to massage your shoulders whilst telling you to "Relax!" as the kite catapults you headfirst onto the beach in front of an amused audience of professionals ducking for cover)
  • it gets me away from the demands of young children on the beach ("Is it lunchtime yet?" "Can I have an ice cream?" "My brother/sister is not playing with me/does not want to go in the water/is kicking sand/buried my hat/took my towel/smashed my architectural masterpiece...")
  • it just looks FUN

So I have taken the plunge. Or rather, OH and I both have (okay, he started last year, but I caught up to his level with a couple of sneaky lessons before he arrived). 

Stay posted. I might just be able to show some footage at some stage - although logistics are eluding me at present and I have visions of my Nokia Lumia being trashed by sand, sea and wind by one of the well-meaning offspring as they attempt to capture proceedings.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this clip.

This girl was so good until I decided to catch her on film.



Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Sushi me up baby

It's funny, isn't it, how some some things come round to bite you in the arse backside behind haunt you.

Not more than two days ago I was chatting with a group of friends about how "I don't do guest or sponsored posts on my blog", recalling the idiocy of many PR approaches ('insert name of blogger [here] and send out random email with non-sensical offer that has nothing to do with who they are or what they are interested in') and the absolute joy of that fabulous key, also known as [delete]

Anyway. Lo and behold within the space of twenty-four hours yesterday I found myself agreeing to take part in something that caught my fancy, for two reasons:

  1. the PR lady (Elly, super efficient media woman) had gone to the trouble of actually reading the LCM blog and passing an amusing comment on my last post; and,
  2. it involved food, more specifically sushi.

As my close friends will attest, the LCM offspring trio are somewhat partial to such fare. A recent holiday outing saw me asking for an overdraft facility when the bill was presented.

So was I 'up' for a lesson* with a sushi chef? Of course. Just don't have me saying that on repeat after a few drinks (sushi chef, that is).

Hmmm... sushi sushi shushi shitzu shit...

Less than twelve hours later and I showed up at The Atrium at Westfield as directed.

It was packed.

straining at the barriers, I tell you

I presented myself, gave my name, watched the nice lady run through the list (which I could read upside down)... and then heard those infamous words: "You're not registered."

I had figured this out already - my upside-down list-reading skills are invaluable in this regard - and showed her the email from my newest bestest media friend Elly.

"Am so!" I retorted.

She looked me up and down. I had even gone to the trouble of dressing up and putting make-up on, yet she still did not look convinced.

"Oh." she said. "Are you a blogger?" she queried, trying hard not to look at me in a condescending manner.

"Uhmm, yes..." I answered, not sure what relevance this had.

"We are seriously oversubscribed for this," she said, "But I might be able to squeeze you in."

And I was allowed into the Holy Quadrant.

Start time came and went. The venue was even more packed. So lucky they let me in.

yes ma'am, the crowds were thronging

Finally a few more people meandered into the enclosure, including one rather intense American who queried everything ("Is this tatami mat plastic? Where do I get one? What way up does the nori sheet go? How much salmon on my roll? Is this enough rice? Should I add wasabi to everything? How much rice? What about my chef's hat, do I wear it? And the apron? Is this too much rice? What way does the nori sheet go again? Can I cut it? Will it rip? What if it rips? Where is my lawyer?...)

No matters. Suffice to say that the sushi chef from L'atelier des Chefs was very patient and very good.
I learnt how to make sushi rolls.
I got very sticky fingers.
I did not get told off for using the bowl of water for washing my hands.
I resisted licking the rice off my extremities.
I refrained from scratching my nose.

I did, however, manage some photos.



voilĂ  - eat!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to clean my phone which still smells a tad fishy.

* yes, they paid me to attend this event, best decision I have made all week btw - PR numpties, take note and LEARN from the lovely Elly how to do it properly


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Open letter to Mr Misery Guts

Dear Mr Miserable Bastard

As I stood this morning in the fine drizzle cheering and clapping the thousands of amateur cyclists in the RideLondon-Surrey100 with Mr Man, Blossom and Molly dog (whose owners were taking part in the event), you accosted me quite aggressively and demanded to know "How long is this going on for?"

Aside from the fact that a preliminary "Good morning!" or even a cursory "Excuse me?" might have softened what came next, I was stunned by the vitriolic attack you then launched after I mentioned the event was continuing for some time yet ("at least until this afternoon" were my words).

"If you need to cross the road, you can do so more safely round the corner, just watch for gaps between the cyclists!" I offered.

"Do they stop for lights?" you asked angrily.

"Err, no, it's a well publicised closed road event!" was my reply.

And then you were off on your rant.

"A bloody inconvenience!" you snarled. "It shouldn't be allowed, totally ridiculous, damn nuisance for us locals..."

I interrupted you. "I'm a local too," I said, "And I think it is a brilliant community event, really exciting and so much fun!"

I was smiling broadly and still clapping the riders whilst this exchange was taking place.

You were not to be swayed from your staunch opinion.

"They should do it somewhere else, it's a disgrace..."

"No it's not!" I replied. "It's fantastic, look how many people are taking part, an amazing achievement for all those participating!"

But alas you were not for the turning, and continued to rant and rave and shake your fists at the swarms of pedal pushers racing past.

"Dreadful, totally inconsiderate..." You went on and on. I rolled my eyes and laughed at you.

And thankfully you then stormed off with your own little black thundercloud hovering persistently over your head.

I did shout after you - quite loudly, I'm sure you heard me - that "You should join in! It might make you a happier person!"

Never mind. I felt sorry for you. Just like I pity the individual who criticised the numerous neighbours who play social volleyball (open to anyone who wishes to join in, might I add) on a grassy area of our communal development. An individual who demanded in their acrimonious email to the residents' committee that (I quote) it should "cease immediately" and they were disappointed that such people were "just interested in their own enjoyment".

Yes, really. Maybe the two of you are related?

So. Mr Miserable. Why are you so displeased to see thousands of your fellow beings taking part in an outdoor activity that brings together all ages, sizes, shapes and abilities? Does it highlight your own social ineptitude? Or maybe you just got out of the wrong side of bed? Or were suffering the aftereffects of a hangover?

Because, you know what? Smiling and cheering on those who take part is a great - and rewarding - way to enjoy a sport, even if you cannot be on a bike yourself.

And it might just make your own life a little brighter.
Especially at 8am on a rainy Sunday morning.

Love and happiness,

Heading up Sheen Lane towards Richmond Park -
the masses en biciclette


Monday, 4 August 2014

Wishful thinking

So there I was racking my brain about how many other people in my network I should be connecting with and who else we could be speaking to and whether it was appropriate to start setting up appointments for September when the bulk of the working population is back in their offices and if I could tap a few other individuals for opportunities to partner with my brilliant business associates and me... and then an invite appeared in my inbox.

Mr Al-Huzzah Al-Maktoum Al-Geezer El-Shabel In-Harrods 'would like to connect with you on LinkedIn'.


Quick search on the internet and the aforesaid Sheikh El-Spondoolies seemed absolutely fair dinkum. He was a real person, he did have the (very) high position of authority he purported, and he also was, comfortingly, not blacklisted by any of the credit ratings or data agencies.

Hmmm, I thought. Too good to be true?

I wrote back to him - without accepting his invite, I might add, I'm picky like that.

"Dear Mr El-Dollarz

Thank you for extending an invitation to LinkIn with you. Whilst I am flattered to be the recipient of such attention, I would also appreciate understanding in what capacity you believe we could work together?

Kind regards,

Within a nanosecond I received a reply.

Ho hum, not quite what I was hoping for.

Would I like to take part in a project financing programme where Mr El-Dollarz' private equity and venture capital company will "re-invest through project funding in investment loan to third party investors, project owners on a 2.5% interest rate per annum on long term investment projects that can generate up to 10% ROI within the period"?

No. I don't get it either. And I have been involved in financial markets and investment banking most of my working life.

So thanks. But no thanks.

Oh, and by the way: what 'period' are you talking about?
Because if it's within my lifetime, that's a pretty crap return by any standard.

Back to the drawing board.
Like they say: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

(c) Scott Adams


Yadda yadda yadda...